More women dying from sepsis during delivery: study

Ann Arbor, MI – The rate of severe sepsis occurring among women in labor doubled between 1998 and 2008, according to a new study from the University of Michigan Health System. Sepsis is a blood infection also known as blood poisoning.

Using a national hospital database, researchers found the rate of severe sepsis cases increased from 1 in 15,400 women hospitalized for delivery to 1 in 7,250, a press release states. While the overall rate of sepsis remained stable during the study period, occurrence of major cases and fatalities both increased approximately 10 percent each year. Although researchers could not point to a specific cause for the increase in severe cases, they said microbial resistance, obesity, smoking and poor health could be to blame.

Risk for sepsis was found to be higher among women with congestive heart failure, lupus, and chronic liver or renal disease. However, many women who developed the condition did not have a risk factor, causing researchers to call for better detection efforts.

The study was published in the October issue of the journal Anesthesia & Analgesia.